‘Spencer’, featuring Kristen Stewart, will be rooted in its director Pablo Larraín’s style which constitutes an eerie atmosphere and psychological explorations. This will make ‘Spencer’ a triumphant horror film about Princess Diana’s emancipation.
Pablo Larraín’s English-language debut ‘Jackie’, which portrayed the turmoil of the first lady after John F, Kennedy’s assassination, perfectly elucidates the director’s aesthetic inclinations. Larraín is fond of creating an atmosphere and does not pay much heed to the plot. This guarantees that ‘Spencer’, the supposed biopic on Princess Diana, will be constructed like a horror story.
- What is ‘Spencer’ about?
- Why is ‘Spencer’ a horror film?
LADY DI’S LIBERATION
Princess Diana struggled through the shackles of royal life and its archaic expectations after marrying Prince Charles. She tolerated infidelity, undeserved infamy, and scrutiny. ‘Spencer’ is the story of Princess Diana deciding to break free from this life — the moment where she reaches the precipice of the cliff and takes the audacious leap of reclaiming her life and her freedom.
The film is set at that phase in Diana’s life where her marriage with Prince Charles was deteriorating. The royal family gathered at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate to celebrate Christmas. However, the real focus during this three-day retreat was getting the defiant Diana in line, in accordance with the norms and ways of royal life.
Consequently, Princess Diana is faced with some crucial choices in these ‘fateful days’, which, as per the film’s imagination, were the final nail in the coffin for Lady Di and compelled her to bid goodbye to the British Crown.
The film’s title is also symbolic of its story. Princess Diana’s maiden name was Diana Frances Spencer. Therefore, the title is conveying that it is a story of the authentic Diana fighting to be herself and reconnect with her inherent desires. But then, how is ‘Spencer’ a horror film?
THE HORROR OF BEING DIANA
‘Spencer’ takes on the biopic route by taking inspiration from Princess Diana’s life, which is also what makes it a horror story. Diana, as shown in the film’s trailer, was made to live a double life: one for herself, one for the cameras. As much as Princess Diana is adored years after her demise, being Diana was a terrible, suffocating experience.
As revealed by the film’s music composer, Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood, the film is an exploration of the “oppression” that Diana faced. Comparing the eerie film to comfortable experience of ‘The Crown‘, the composer expressed,
“There are lots of claustrophobic handheld camera action following her around, and you feel straight away that this is not as easy a viewing experience as something like The Crown”.
This is clearly evident from one line spoken by Stewart as Diana in the film: “Will they kill me, do you think?” Since everyone, from the servants to the members of the royal family, was speculating about Princess Diana and her unconventional actions, this gave the film the opportunity to create a tense tone with its cinematography and music. Thus, Johnny further explained,
“‘Spencer’ is a bit like a horror film in a way. There are all these sinister servants loitering under stairs, and there is this feeling of paranoia and oppression. The music was meant to enhance that”.
Pablo Larraín did something similar with Jackie Kennedy’s grief in ‘Jackie’ and turned it into a discomforting tale. Likewise, ‘Spencer’ will be a horror film taking a deep dive into the nightmare of being Princess Diana at that stage in her life.
It will be interesting to see if ‘Spencer’ liberates Princess Diana or leaves her to the fate of a victim? In one scene, during the trailer, Diana’s son asks her, “Mommy, what’s happened to make you sad?” Here’s hoping that ‘Spencer’ explores Diana’s quest for happiness.
What are your expectations from Kristen Stewart’s ‘Spencer’? Do you believe making the story a horror one in its tone is a wise decision? Comment below!